The project will reduce hazardous fuels and improve wildlife habitat
Firefighters will initiate the first phase (Unit 1) of planned prescribed fire to improve wildlife habitat and manage forest vegetation in Teton Canyon on Friday, April 2. Activity is anticipated to occur early in the afternoon to minimize impacts to recreationists. During active operations, firefighters will be along Ski Hill Road and smoke will be visible. For the safety of our firefighters, we ask individuals heading up the canyon to use caution and drive slowly, short delays may be possible.
The Teton Canyon Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project was developed years ago in collaboration with local land management agencies, land trust and conservation organizations, local landowners and public recreation users concerned about fuel density in the canyon. “Years of fire exclusion resulted in stands of dense mountain brush and timber and high loads of dead and down fuel,” said Deb Flowers, Assistant Fire Management Officer for the South Fork Zone. “By implementing prescribed fire under very specific conditions, we intend to reduce the future wildfire threat to adjacent private property, important infrastructure and municipal water supplies.”
Additional benefits will occur for wildlife in the area by stimulating aspen and other plants dependent on wildfire. Wyoming Game and Fish is an important partner on this project and acknowledge in a support letter that while fire might have some short-term impacts on wildlife the “long-term benefits of this project far outweigh these short-term effects” by improving the winter range.
Prescribed fire is generally implemented on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest during the spring, late summer, or fall seasons. Spring burn windows occur between snowmelt and green-up where the balance of weather and moisture is important to the success of prescribed fire activities to meet wildlife habitat and fuel reduction objectives. Fire managers will continue working in these areas as the snow recedes and more vegetation becomes available to burn.
If weather conditions do not allow for ignition, the Forest Service will continue to monitor for an extended clear weather pattern that will meet the combination of fuel moisture, temperature, wind, and smoke dispersal conditions necessary for a successful operation. During any season, weather and fuel conditions are the key elements needed to safely implement prescribed fire and meet project objectives. Fire managers plan to continue prescribed fire operations later this year as conditions allow.
This important project could not be accomplished without the support from various partners including the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust, Wyoming Game and Fish Department Habitat Trust and local public officials.
For more information, or to learn about the benefits of prescribed fire and the role wildfire has in the ecosystem, contact the Teton Basin Ranger District Office at 208-354-2312 or visit fs.usda.gov/main/ctnf/fire.